Anterograde & Retrograde Memory – MCAT Psychology | MedSchoolCoach

Anterograde & Retrograde Memory

MCAT Psychology - Chapter 2- Section 3 - Cognition - Memory
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Sample MCAT Question - Anterograde & Retrograde Memory

What condition results from the removal of both medial temporal lobes of the brain?

a) Anterograde memory

b) Inability to encode new information to implicit memory

c) Inability to encode new information to explicit memory

d) Retrograde memory

C is correct. As in the case of Henry Molaison, the removal of both medial temporal lobes, which would include the removal of the hippocampus, would negatively affect one’s ability to commit new information to explicit memory (choice C is correct). However, one would still be able to learn through implicit memory (choice B is incorrect). Choice A is incorrect because anterograde memory is the ability to form new long-term memories, the opposite of what would occur after the removal of both medial temporal lobes. Choice is D is incorrect because retrograde memory is the ability to retrieve information that was acquired before an event.

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Anterograde & Retrograde Memory for the MCAT

Anterograde memory refers to the ability to form new memories and retain information, while retrograde memory pertains to the ability to recall memories and events. These two types of memory are often studied in the context of neurological conditions, such as brain injuries, amnesia, and degenerative disorders. Understanding anterograde and retrograde memory is crucial for the MCAT exam.

Anterograde Memory

Anterograde memory is the ability to form new long-term memories of a given event. For example, if, while you are eating dinner with family, something from the conversation sticks out to you, you may encode that information in your long-term memory. Someone with anterograde amnesia has lost the ability to create new memories, and is unable to transfer new information from short term memory to long term memory. A classic example of anterograde amnesia is the case of Henry Molaison. Molaison had both of his medial temporal lobes removed in an attempt to treat the severe epilepsy he experienced as a child. After the surgery, he was no longer able to commit new information to explicit memory, suffering anterograde amnesia. However, after his surgery, Molaison was still able to recall information that he knew before the surgery and was also able to learn through his implicit memory. An example of learning through implicit memory is that those with anterograde amnesia can still learn how to ride a bike, but they will not be able to encode the memory of an event that occurs after the traumatic event.

Retrograde Memory

Retrograde memory, on the other hand, is the ability to retrieve information that was committed to long term memory. If someone has retrograde amnesia, they are unable to recall information before an event. For example, someone might suffer a brain injury and no longer be able to recall childhood experiences.

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